The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school has a new report out based on the latest crime statistics. It “collected crime data directly from local police departments in America’s 30 largest cities, and then used historical trends to estimate 2017 year-end crime numbers.” The results — no surprise if you have been following crime trends over the past decade — contradict the administration’s propaganda that we are in the midst of a crime wave. That’s plain false, according to the report:
The overall crime rate in 2017 is projected to decrease slightly, by 1.8 percent. If this estimate holds, 2017 will have the second-lowest crime rate since 1990.
The violent crime rate is projected to decrease slightly, by 0.6 percent, essentially remaining stable. This result is driven primarily by stabilization in Chicago, and declines in Washington, D.C., two large cities that experienced increases in violence in recent years. The violent crime rate for this year is projected to be about 1 percent above 2014’s violent crime rate, the lowest recorded since 1990.
The 2017 murder rate is projected to be 2.5 percent lower than last year. This year’s decline is driven primarily by decreases in Detroit (down 25.6 percent), Houston (down 20.5 percent), and New York (down 19.1 percent). Chicago’s murder rate is also projected to fall, by 2.4 percent. The 2017 murder rate is expected to be on par with that of 2009, well at the bottom of the historic post-1990 decline, yet still higher than the lowest recorded rate in 2013.
That doesn’t mean crime is down everywhere. Spikes in Charlotte, Columbus and Denver produced double-digit percent increases in murder in the cities. (It’s worth noting that according to the most recent available data, the states in which those cities are located have relatively few unauthorized immigrants. California, which has the largest unauthorized population, and Texas, which is second, have cities with some of the most impressive decreases in crime (e.g., San Diego is down 17.8 percent, and San Jose more than 42 percent). And, yes, you can find cities with small increases in their murder rate (Los Angeles is up 3 percent) in states with lots of immigrants here illegally — which only goes to show that the presence or absence of such immigrants is not related to crime (a fact demonstrated by other studies).
Remember that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has used “rising” crime to justify a slew of extreme measures from the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to mandatory minimum sentencing. The Post reported recently:
Sessions uses the alleged crime wave as evidence for the need to return to “law and order,” which President Trump has vowed to make a top priority during his presidency. As attorney general, Sessions has advocated for several policies aimed at preventing violent crime from continuing to rise, including toughening policing practices, reinstating mandatory minimum sentences for drug users, providing surplus military equipment to police departments and dismantling “sanctuary cities.” In June, Sessions launched a new program to combat gun, gang and drug violence in 12 cities across the United States.
Sessions is entitled, within legal and constitutional limits, to change enforcement policies for the federal government. He should not, however, use a blatant lie to justify such moves. If the moves are so extreme and unpopular that only a crime wave would justify his decisions, then his decisions need to be rethought.